13 Times You Need A Structural Engineer

structural engineer creating plans for a residential home

If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to know when you need a structural engineer. A structural engineer can help identify and solve problems with the structure of your home. Here are 13 times you need a structural engineer.

 

  1. Chimney Removal – One of the most common reasons people enquire for a structural engineer is for the removal of a chimney. A fundamental part of any home up to no more than a few decades ago, chimneys have now become obsolete with advancements in central heating and better-insulated homes. Because of this, many homeowners now look to remove chimneys in a safe, and structurally sound way in order to open up more space and reclaim that extra square footage. Employing a structural engineer is critical for removing a chimney breast as there is a wide range of uncertainties that could affect the way you remove a chimney, for example, if the chimney is acting as a support, you will need to put in a substitute support to hold the weight.
  2. Internal Wall Removal – Everyone has ideas of knocking walls down and opening up different rooms in their homes, we’ve thought about it, you’ve thought about it, and your next-door neighbor has probably already done it. For our engineers, they see internal wall removal requests every single day. The reason why you need a structural engineer to investigate the wall you’re looking to remove is to identify if it is load-bearing, if it is, then you will need to put an RSJ (rolled steel joist) in place to account for the load the wall was supporting.
  3. You have noticed Cracking/Movement within your home – whether its a new build settling in, or an old property that’s developed some visible issues, having a structural engineer inspect any cracks or movements in your home can make a big impact as opposed to if you leave them unchecked, and potentially have a large bill further down the line to make repairs, and even exposes you to critical issues with your home if the cracks are really bad.
  4. Replacing a retaining wall – if you’re in a situation where you’ve noticed changes to a retaining wall such as; bowing, leaning, crumbling, cracking, separating or leaking, you definitely need to start putting plans in place to replace a retaining wall. To do so, employing a structural engineer will not only provide you with the expertise of ensuring a smooth and safe plan for replacement, but also provide you with key details on materials and long-term planning for the success of your retaining wall.
  5. Extending your property – any extension of your property needs to be carefully planned and executed not only so that your added space is structurally sound in the short term, but for the long term also. A structural engineer will ensure the integrity of your extension, taking into account the location, feasibility, materials needed and the structural support needed to sustain the weight.
  6. Planning a loft conversion – having become very common over the past two decades, loft conversions are an excellent way of adding both value and extra living space to your property, allwithout having to move. The amount and type of work you need from a structural engineer will depend on the existing structure, and what you plan on doing with it. A structural engineer is needed to provide a structural design in order to be approved by Building Regulations, they can also provide designs for stairs, provide plans for ensuring the roofing remains structurally safe, and also ensuring the structure below isn’t affected from the extra load.
  7. Roof replacement or you noticed defects with your current roof – roofs, like most parts of your home, over time will need replacing, and if you’ve started to notice defects then that time has definitely come. If you’re looking to change the materials of your roof, for example from slate to tiles, then in accordance with building regulations you will need a structural engineer to ensure that the roof has enough structural stability. Engineers can also identify areas of concern when the new roof is likely to be heavier than the old one, and help you in planning where new supports need to be put in place.
  8. Installing or making changes to a balcony area – we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to get an engineer to plan and consult on any changes to a balcony area considering the issues that can arise. Whether you’re looking to make considerable changes, or slight adjustments, assessing the structural integrity of balconies play a large part in ensuring their long-term success. Whilst everything may appear fine, the materials used can often be misleading to the untrained eye.
  9. Drainage requirements – drainage design and the consideration of how water flows both in and away from a building can often go without recognition, however, they play a fundamental roll in ensuring the longevity of any project as a well-thought-out drainage solution can not only help prevent flooding but also preserve and prolonge the foundations of your project.
  10. You have architectural plans for a new development – architects and engineers work together on a day-to-day basis, and as a multi-disciplinary organisation who offer both services, we see the differences between them everyday. Getting architectural plans are a great way for you to better understand, and visualise how your property is going to look, it’s then an engineers job to assess these plans and look for any areas where the idea is either not feasible (due to building regulations, support needed etc), or whether or not you will need to make alterations to these plans in order for you to have a structurally sound plan that is ready to get underway.
  11. Modifying door/window areas, e.g., install Bifolding doors. – If you are planning on making any modifications to the doors or windows in your home, or even installing bi-folding doors, then you will need to hire a structural engineer. A structural engineer will be able to assess the suitability of the proposed changes and determine whether they will be safe and structurally sound. They will also be able to advise on the best way to carry out the work, taking into account the existing construction of your home. Without the advice of a structural engineer, you run the risk of causing structural damage to your home which could be expensive and dangerous to repair.
  12. Fitting solar panels – to fit solar panels isn’t as simple as sticking them on your roof and leaving them to it. Instead, you’re likely going to need an engineer to calculate the load capacity of you
    r roof to decide on feasibility, and how many your roof is capable of holding.
  13. Underpinning floors – underpinning is the process of strengthening the foundation of an existing structure. It is commonly used to repair foundations that have been weakened by subsidence or other factors. underpinning can also be used to add additional support to a foundation in order to accommodate a new or heavier structure. While underpinning is typically a straightforward process, it requires a thorough understanding of the existing foundation and the soil conditions surrounding it. As a result, underpinning should always be performed by a qualified structural engineer. A structural engineer will be able to assess the condition of the existing foundation and design anunderpinning solution that is appropriate for the specific circumstances.

2 Bonus Points

  1. You’re purchasing a property and a homebuyer’s report has flagged up some potential necessary structural repairs
  2. Damage to your property in the event of an accident or fire – If your home has sustained damage in a fire, it is important to have a structural engineer assess the damage to determine if there are any structural problems or exposed weaknesses. A structural engineer can help you determine the cause of the damage and make recommendations for repairs. If you have fire damage to your property, contact a structural engineer today to schedule an assessment.

There are many reasons why you will need a structural engineer for your property, our five main reasons are; removing a chimney breast, removing internal walls, cracking within your property, building an extension, and converting a loft space. To ensure the safety and integrity of your property, we can’t stress enough how important hiring a structural engineer can be to future-proof your home.

So, if you’re considering any kind of property alteration or extension in the near future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to book a call with one of our structural engineers and discuss your project in further detail. Contact us today at  or call us on 0345 375 3298. Thanks for reading!

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